Government is increasingly riding the digital transformation wave with the adoption of sophisticated technology solutions that provide enhanced customer engagement, improved efficiency and lower costs. Agency leadership and innovation, combined with robust citizen participation, are equally important for both federal organizations and state and local government to further this transformation. The adoption process is creating new opportunities for engaged constituents and agencies alike across the most modern technology trends, from social media to mobility and analytics, to cloud adoption rates, and leading-edge cybersecurity practices.
Cloud Computing Picks up Steam
While big data and analytics often take center stage of the modern technology discussion, the acceptance of cloud computing can’t be overlooked. Cloud spending represents about 8.5% of all IT spending by the federal government for FY2016, according to a new report from IDC Government Insights. It was roughly 5% as recently as FY2015.
In tight budget environments government organizations are reluctant to spend precious funds on systems that are rapidly becoming outdated. Yet they must. As it is, agencies spend nearly 60% of IT budgets maintaining legacy systems that are 10 to 30 years old, and clearly vulnerable to modern cybersecurity attacks.
Moving agency workloads to the cloud is a step toward modernization, improved security and ultimately reduced overall costs. For agencies unprepared to make the move, there are hybrid-cloud environments, with options ranging from integrated public cloud services, to deployed cloud solutions behind agency firewalls. Hybrid cloud adoption is significantly on the rise within the federal government due to mitigation of transition risk over time.
Increased Access to Digital Services
Citizens are yearning for the opportunity to feel more connected to government and its services rather than feeling like an island in an ocean of tech white noise. Citizens are government’s customers and they seek to be heard in the public sector just as they are in the private sector, via social posts and modern community and customer engagement platforms. Mobility and social business services are forging an ever-improving path of communication between customer and government. Furthermore, citizens are demanding more self-service capabilities via their smart phones and web experiences. Agencies have an opportunity to develop a roadmap to better connect with citizens by focusing on the following processes:
- Employing modern technology on par with the best commercial experiences
- Integrating solutions with current legacy systems
- Using common consumer applications to ensure simplified and integrated access to the agency and its programs
As government becomes more connected with citizens, people increasingly will feel their communities truly represent their ideals and anticipate their needs.
Mobility & Mashups
The mobile revolution is at the center of the intersection of modern government and the always-connected citizen. By layering mobile experiences with a mashup of cloud services, social engagement platforms, sensor data and big data/analytics, leaders can offer the promise of government profoundly changing its relationship with constituents.
This changing dynamic will drive greater transparency between government and citizens by making data ever more accessible to the public, when needed and on device of choice resulting in improved government accountability.
It doesn’t end there. The mashup of technology trends is leading to so-called “3rd platform” technologies (commonly referred to by IDC that constitutes four main technologies: cloud, big data & analytics, mobile and social) and application platforms, including:
- 3D Printing
- Internet of Things (IoT)
As information from 3rd platform technologies continues to grow and become more complex, government’s IT landscape and business will need to dramatically shift to accommodate and expose value from a new wave of data.
Unlock the Value of Open Data
Stronger government connectivity will continue to play a major role in transparent, “open” data available to citizens, as well as influence the information infrastructure modernization required to unlock, expose, protect and realize its value. The enthusiasm and real-time productivity of this “democratization of data” landscape tends to quickly surface and reveal inefficiencies or issues with IT investments – that otherwise might have remained very private. Whether data transparency expectations are driven by constituent expectations, or mandated legislation, they offer a historical, consensus opportunity for true modernization and simplification of public sector IT investments.
Current trends in data consolidation technologies, converged IT infrastructure, containerized micro services and nested virtualization are rapidly reducing the complexities in building, running and maintaining systems that provide real-time public data access and analysis. Success in enabling cost-effective data transparency is in turn dramatically expanding the universe of available data, and therefore further accelerating the need for IT simplification. Industry is responding, in collaboration with government. A recent paper by ACT-IAC entitled “The Data Act – IT Infrastructure Guidance” for example, explores some approaches agencies can consider, to simplify and enable their systems to meet the democratization of data deluge.
Cybersecurity Looms Large
It’s hardly news that cybersecurity breaches are on the rise. A recent GAO report shows just how big of a problem federal and state & local agencies are facing. Incidents jumped more than 1,100 percent from just 2006 to 2014, Cybersecurity is at the top of most agency IT agendas, and was called out in the President’s proposed Cybersecurity National Action Plan in the FY2016 Budget, including a 35% increase in cybersecurity spending to $19 billion. While advanced analytics to improve network monitoring and anomaly detection is helpful, agencies know that ensuring the protection of data is a critical component of every government IT strategy. It has also led to a cultural shift within many organizations, including steps to:
- Secure data within networks as an “always-on” infrastructure security posture
- Create the role of Chief Security Officer (CSO) solely focused on data security
- Develop a framework of governance for housing secured data with industry partners
The modern agency understands and embraces the fundamental shifts and technology trends that are reshaping citizen-government interactions. The opportunity lies in truly engaging customers of all ages and socio-economic groups across the globe – and by delivering modern services seamlessly and securely, across any device or channel.
Franco Amalfi is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.